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Mac OS X Services in Snow Leopard

Mac OS X Services let one application supply its powers to another; for example, a Grab service helps TextEdit paste a screenshot into a document. Most users either don't know that Services exist, because they're in an obscure hierarchical menu (ApplicationName > Services), or they mostly don't use them because there are so many of them.

Snow Leopard makes it easier for the uninitiated to utilize this feature; only services appropriate to the current context appear. And in addition to the hierarchical menu, services are discoverable as custom contextual menu items - Control-click in a TextEdit document to access the Grab service, for instance.

In addition, the revamped Keyboard preference pane lets you manage services for the first time ever. You can enable and disable them, and even change their keyboard shortcuts.

Submitted by
Doug McLean

 
 

AT&T Adds ExpressCard 3G Cell Data Option for MacBook Pro

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MacBook Pro owners have typically had to rely on USB-based modems to use third-generation (3G) cellular networks. Nova Media offers an ExpressCard HSUPA option which can work with a MacBook Pro on AT&T's U.S. 3G network (and tons of networks in Europe), but which costs €299 ($438). The advantage of an ExpressCard is really the form factor, which hides most of the device other than the antenna - sometimes with an external booster option.

AT&T has now introduced what looks to be the same item from device maker Option, but fully within its subsidized grasp. AT&T's GT Ultra Express works with Mac OS X 10.4.10 and later, and costs nothing (after two rebates are sent in) with a two-year subscription to AT&T's data service; that subscription runs $60 per month for unlimited usage. The card will cost $49 with the same contract terms after the second rebate stops being part of a limited-time promotion.


In an unrelated move, Nova Media announced at the same time that their launch2net software (€75/$110) can provide a bit more control over these "new" devices from AT&T than does the free downloadable Mac OS X software. The Nova Media software provides statistics to monitor bandwidth rates and usage, as well as various connection controls.


The timing is nice, because this new card coincides with AT&T's announcement that they would increase upload speeds and add 80 cities (for a total of 350 cities) to their American 3G network deployment. (See "More Mileposts Along Road to 3G iPhone," 2008-02-06. For an explanation of the various technology used in AT&T's network, see "Starbucks Deal Brewed with AT&T Has Hints of Apple," 2008-02-12.)

The GT Ultra Express, along with an identically priced PC Card version called the GT Ultra, is tri-band for 3G flavors and quad-band for EDGE. This lets it work in what AT&T describes as 140 countries - watch those international roaming fees, however!

The Mac OS X software - in one version for 10.4.10, and another for 10.4.11 and 10.5.0 or later - can be downloaded from AT&T's support site.

 

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